All of a sudden it’s that time of year again - firework smoke in the air, hearty casseroles and that annoying friend who already has all their Christmas presents bought and wrapped. As Halloween creeps up on us (sorry), in accounting terms it means the first of the self assessment deadlines. (more…)
Now that we are approaching the end of the first quarter of the new tax year, it’s time to start thinking about your tax return for the 2015/2016 year. It’s not panic stations yet (see this year’s deadlines), so here’s a light-hearted look at some of the worst ever excuses people have given HMRC for filing their tax returns late. These are 100% genuine!
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • My pet goldfish died.
  • After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t think of anything else.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My husband told me the deadline was March 31st and I believed him.
  • I was in Australia.
  • My bad back means I can’t go upstairs and that’s where my tax return is.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • I had a run-in with a cow.
Needless to say none of these excuses cut any mustard, and according to HMRC, all found themselves on the end of a hefty fine. But while HMRC may not be hugely sympathetic on the demise of your pet goldfish, they are not heartless. If you have a "reasonable excuse" for filing or paying late, you can appeal for an extension. This is normally something unforeseen or beyond your control, for example a serious fire, postal delays or an unexpected stay in hospital. However HMRC are unlikely to class insufficient funds, lack of a reminder letter or difficulty using the online system as acceptable excuses for late tax returns.

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With Christmas and New Year out of the way, that annual bug bear for millions of people across the UK now looms on the horizon. Whilst your credit and debit cards remain white hot from the pre & post Christmas spending frenzy, you're likely to be starting to think about your self-assessment tax return. Unless you're one of the 24,500 people who managed to get your tax return filed just prior to Big Ben bringing in the start of 2016, then you're quickly running out of time to get yours filed with HMRC before the deadline at the end of the month.

The self-assessment facts you need to know

Check out our infographic below for the facts about your self-assessment tax return, what you need to do by when and also could happen if you don't get yours in on time. (more…)
Being a freelancer definitely has its benefits. You can work in your slippers, with a hot fresh coffee and have the radio station of your choosing on in the background. Plus, there's no-one there to judge you when you switch over to a channel that plays music instead of having news breaks. But freelancing can mean than you need to adopt a different approach to your finances. Becoming solely responsible for your total monthly income can take time and some careful financial planning - not to mention nerves of steel. Here's our overview on how freelancing affects your finances, and the impact it can have. (more…)
HMRC could be increasingly likely to conclude that mistakes on tax returns are deliberate rather than an innocent error. According to the Daily Telegraph, there has been an increase in HMRC officials believing taxpayers are aware of the mistakes they are making and therefore applying more penalties. (more…)
Last week's Budget confirmed that the annual self-assessment tax returns are to be replaced by a simpler process. George Osborne announced the yearly tax return will be scrapped in favour of a digital option that will allow taxes to be taken by HMRC directly. (more…)